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two or more individuals who interact, share goals and norms, and have a subjective awareness as "we."


a group consisting of exactly two people


group consisting of exactly three people

Georg Simmel

dyad/triad distinction can have critical consequences for group behavior

triadic segregation

tendency for triads to segregate into a pair and an isolate (a single person); triad tends to segregate into a coalition of the dyad against the isolate

group size effects

effects of group number on group behavior independent of the personality characteristics of the members themselves

Charles Horton Cooley

introduced concept of primary group

primary group

group consisting of intimate, face-to-face interaction and relatively long-lasting relationships (ex: family, early peer group)

secondary groups

those that are larger in membership, less intimate, and less long-lasting. Tend to be less significant in the emotional lives of people (ex: all students at a college or university, all people in neighborhood, all people in a corporation)

expressive needs

socioemotional needs; human desires like intimacy, companionship, emotional support

instrumental needs

task-oriented needs

reference groups

those to which you may or may not belong but use as a standard for evaluating your values, attitudes, and behaviors; not "groups" in the sense that the individual interacts within/in them

W.I. Thomas

concept of in-groups vs. out-groups/us vs. them

attribution theory

principle that we all make inferences about the personalities of others, such as concluding what the other is "really like."

attribution error

errors made in attributing causes for people's behavior to their membership in a particular group, such as a racial group

social network

set of links between individuals, between groups, or between other social units


primary group of people—usually related by ancestry, marriage, or adoption, who form a cooperative economic unit to care for offspring and each other and who are committed to maintaining the group over time

kinship system

the pattern of relationships that define people's relationships to one another within a family; vary enormously across cultures and over time

features of a kinship system

o How many marriage partners are permitted at one time
o Who is permitted to marry whom
o How descent is determined
o How property is passed on
o Where the family resides
o How power is distributed


the practice of men or women having multiple marriage partners


the practice of a sexually exclusive marriage with one spouse at a time

patrilineal kinship

kinship systems that trace descent through the father

matrilineal kinship

trace decent through the mother

bilateral (bilineal) kinship

traces descent through mother and father


married couples move into the wife's residence/wife's family's residence


married couples move into the husband's residence/husband's family's residence

extended family

whole network of parents, children, and other relatives who form a family unit

nuclear family

married couple resides together with their children

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